Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it (7).
Throughout this little book we have been tracing the evidence of the love of the bridegroom for his bride, from the time when the shepherd first looked on the shepherdess and his heart went out to her until the time when they were united in marriage. It is a beautiful picture, first of the love of Christ reaching us in our deep, deep need, and then the glorious union with Him, which will be consummated at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
In verse 6 of this chapter you hear the bride exclaiming, “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm.” The seal represents something that is final and settled. One draws up a legal document and seals it and that settles it. And so Christ and His loved ones have entered into an eternal relationship, and He has given us the seal, the Holy Spirit. “In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:13-14). That seal is the pledge of His love. You will notice that in the words that follow verse 6 we have love spoken of in four ways, at least we have four characteristics of love.
First, there is the strength of love. “Love is strong as death.” Second, the jealousy of love. In the King James version we read, “Jealousy is cruel as the grave.” Human love may be a very cruel thing indeed. But actually the word translated “cruel” is the ordinary Hebrew word for firm or unyielding. It may be translated, “Jealousy is unyielding as the grave.” “The coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.” This expression, “a vehement flame,” in the Hebrew text is “a flame of Jan.” That is the first part of the name of Jehovah and it is one of the titles of God. In the third place we have the endurance of love: “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it” (7). And then lastly, there is the value of love: “If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned” (7).
First let us meditate on the strength of love. We are thinking, of course, of the love of our God as revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ, for Christ is the Bridegroom of our souls. “Love is strong as death.” This He has already demonstrated: “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Giving Himself meant going into death to redeem His own. “Love is strong as death.” We might even say in His case, “It is stronger than death,” for death could not quench His love. He went down into death and came up in triumph that He might make us His own.
We are reminded of the strength of His love as we gather at the Lord’s table. He wishes us to cherish His death and resurrection in a special way when we come together to remember Him. He knows how apt we are to forget. He knows how easy it is to be occupied with the ordinary things of life, and even with the work of the Lord, and forget for the moment the price He paid for our redemption. He would call us back from time to time to sit together in sweetest and most solemn fellowship and meditate on that mighty love of His which is “strong as death.” Nothing could turn Him aside.
Love that no thought can reach,
Love that no tongue can teach,
Matchless it is!
Because there was no other way to redeem our souls, “And… the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). When He went through that Samaritan village, they did not receive Him because they realized that there was no desire on His part to remain among them at that time. They saw “his face…as though he would go to Jerusalem,” (53) and they said as it were, “Well, if He prefers to go to Jerusalem rather than remain here with us, we are not going to pay attention to His message. We are not interested in the proclamation that He brings.” How little they understood that it was for them, as truly as for the Jews in Judea, that He “stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” If He had not gone to Jerusalem and given Himself up to the death of the cross, there could be no salvation for Samaritan, Jew, or Gentile. But oh, the strength of His love! He allowed nothing to divert Him from that purpose for which He had come from Heaven. Before He left the glory, He said, “Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7). For Him to do the will of God meant laying down His life on the cross for our redemption. Do we think of it as much as we should? Do we give ourselves to meditation, to dwelling on the love of Christ, a love that passeth knowledge? Do we often say to ourselves, “The Son of God… loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20)? Oh, the strength of His love!
Then we think of the jealousy of love. I know that jealousy in these sinful hearts of ours is often a most contemptible and despicable thing. Jealousy on our part generally means utter selfishness. We are so completely selfish, we do not like to share anything we consider valuable with anyone else. What untold sorrow has come into many a home because of the unreasonable jealousy of a husband, of a wife, of parents, or of children. But while we deprecate a jealousy that has selfishness and sin at the root of it, there is another jealousy that is absolutely pure and holy. Even on our lower plane someone has well said that, “Love is only genuine as long as it is jealous.” When the husband reaches the place where he says, “I do not care how my wife bestows her favors on others; I do not care how much she runs around with other men; I am so large-hearted I can share her with everybody,” that husband does not love his wife. If you could imagine a wife talking like that about her husband, you would know that love was gone, that it was dead.
Love cannot but be jealous, but let us see that it is a jealousy that is free from mere selfishness and unwarranted suspicion. When we think of it in connection with God we remember that one of the first things we learned to recite was the Ten Commandments, and some of us were perplexed when we read, “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:5). We shrank back from that because we were so used to thinking of jealousy as a despicable human passion, that we could not think of God having it in His character. But it is He who has a right to be jealous. God’s jealousy is as pure as is His love, and it is because He loves us so tenderly that He is jealous. In what sense is He jealous? God knows that our souls* happiness and blessing can only be found in walking in fellowship with Himself. He loves us so much He does not want to see us turning away from the enjoyment of His love and trying to find satisfaction in any lesser affection, which can only be for harm and eventual ruin. “The end of those things is death” (Romans 6:21).
Paul writing to the Corinthian church said, “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). Then he gave the ground of his jealousy: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (3). You see Paul was a true pastor. He loved the people of Christ’s flock and knew that their only lasting joy was to be found in living in communion with their Savior. His heart was torn with a holy jealousy if he saw them turning aside to the things of the world, following after the things of the flesh, or being ensnared by the devil. Every God-anointed pastor will feel that way.
Young believers sometimes imagine that some of us who try to lead the flock of God are often needlessly hard and severe. They think we are unsympathetic and lacking in compassion and tenderness when we earnestly warn them of the folly of worldliness and carnality. They say, “Oh, they don’t understand. That old fogy preacher, I have no doubt, had his fling when he was young. Now he is old and these things no longer interest him, and so he wants to keep us from having a good time!”
Let me “speak as a fool,” and yet I trust to the glory of God. As a young believer coming to Christ when I was fourteen years old, the first lesson I had to learn was that there is nothing in this poor world that could satisfy my heart. By the grace of God I sought to give it all up for Jesus’ sake. The only regret I have today is that there have ever been times in my life when I have drifted into carnality and fallen into a low backslidden state. I regret that I allowed myself something that afterward left a bad conscience and a sense of broken fellowship. I never was happy until it was judged, and I was once more in communion with the Lord. If sometimes we speak strongly to you, young believer, about following the ways of the world, reminding you that God has said, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate,…and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Corinthians 6:17), it is because we have learned by years of experience that there is no peace, there is no lasting joy, there is no true unspoiled happiness for those who walk in the ways of the world. If you want a life of gladness, a life of enduring bliss; if you want to be able to lie down at last and face death with a glad, free spirit, then we beg of you, follow the path that your blessed Lord Jesus took. Oh, that we might not be turned aside but that we might rouse our souls to a godly jealousy.
I wonder if you have ever noticed that the blessed Holy Spirit who dwells in every believer is Himself spoken of as jealous. There is a passage found in James 4:4-5, that I am afraid is not often really understood, because of the way it is translated in the King James version. Yet it is a very striking passage:
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
Take that to your heart, dear young Christian. Do not be seduced by the world and its folly; do not be turned aside from the path of faithfulness to Christ by the mad rush for worldly pleasure and amusement; do not allow the flesh to turn you away and rob you of what should be your chief joy. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God. whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” It is the next verse that perhaps we might not understand. “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” One might gather that this expression, “The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy,” was a quotation from Scripture, as though He were asking, “Do you think the Scripture, that is, the Old Testament, saith in vain, ‘The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?’” But you can search the Old Testament from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Malachi, and you will not find those words or anything that sounds like them. So it is clear that that is not what is meant. In fact, there are really two distinct questions in the Greek. First there is the question, “Do ye think that the scripture speaketh in vain?” Do you? Having read its warnings and its admonitions against worldliness, against being unequally yoked, against pursuing the pleasures of sin, against following the path of the flesh, do you sometimes say in your heart, “I know it is all in the Bible, but after all, I am not going to take it too seriously?” Do you think that the Scripture speaks this warning in vain?
Why has God put these things in His Word? Is it because He does not love you and desires to keep you from things that would do you good? That is what the devil told Eve in the beginning. He insinuated that God did not love her. He said, “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). And Eve said in effect, “I am going to eat of it; I will try anything once.” Is that what you have been saying too? If you can only do this or do that, you think you will have an experience you have never had before. The whole world is looking for new thrills today. Before you act, put the question to yourself, “Does the Scripture speak in vain?” It tells you that the end of all these things is death and you may be assured the Scripture does not speak in vain.
Then there is a second question in that passage in James 4, “[Doth] The Spirit that dwelleth in us [jealously desire]?” And the answer is, “Yes.” The Holy Ghost dwelling in the believer jealously desires to keep us away from the world and to keep our hearts true to Christ. Do you realize that you never tried to go into anything that dishonored the Lord, you never took a step to go into the world, but the Spirit of God within you was grieved? He sought to exercise you because He jealously desired to keep you faithful to Christ. I am talking to Christians. If you are not a Christian, the Spirit does not dwell in you.
Our blessed Lord wants you all for Himself. People say sometimes, “Well, I want to give the Lord the first place in my heart,” and they mean that there will be a lot of places for other things. The Lord does not merely want the first place. He wants the whole place; He wants to control your whole heart, and when He has the entire control, everything you do will be done for His glory.
A striking little incident is told by Pastor Dolman. Before World War I he was in Russia holding some meetings in the palace of one of the Russian nobility. Among those who attended the meetings was a grand duchess. She was a sincere evangelical Christian. Dr. Dolman was talking one day about a life devoted to Christ, about separation and unworldliness. When he finished, the grand duchess stepped forward and said, “I do not agree with everything Pastor Dolman said.”
“What did I say with which you do not agree, Your Imperial Highness?” asked Dr. Dolman.
“You said it is wrong to go to the theater. I go to the theater; but I never go without first getting down on my knees and asking Him to go with me, and He does.”
Pastor Dolman said, “But, Your Imperial Highness, I did not say a word about the theater.”
“I know; but you meant that.”
“Your Imperial Highness,” said Dr. Dolman, “are you not turning things around? Who gave you or me authority to decide where we will go or what we will do, and then to ask the Lord to be with us in it? Instead of getting down on your knees and saying, ‘Lord, I am going to the theater, come with me,’ why don’t you wait until He comes to you and says, ‘Grand Duchess, I am going to the theater, and I want you to go with Me?’”
She threw up her hands and was honest enough to say, “Pastor Dolman, you have spoiled the theater for me. I cannot go again.”
“Where He leads me, I will follow,” but don’t you start and ask Him to tag along. Let Him lead. Because He knows that your real, lasting happiness and joy are bound up in devotion to Him, He is jealous lest you should be turned aside.
Next we notice the endurance of love. “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it” (Song of Solomon 8:7). How precious that is! How blessedly this was proven by Christ. He went down beneath the floods of divine judgment. He could say, “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me” (Psalm 42:7). But it did not quench His love. Through all the years since His people have had to endure many things—they have had to pass through deep waters, to go through great trials—but He has been with them through it all. “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them” (Isaiah 63:9). In Isaiah 43:2 we read, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Don’t you love to have somebody to whom you can go with all your troubles and know He will never get tired of you?
Some years ago I became acquainted with a poor little old lady in a place where I was ministering the Word. She was going through all kinds of sorrow, and she came to me and said, “I would just like to tell you about my troubles.” I felt like saying, “Dear sister, I wish you would tell them to the Lord.” But I sat down and listened. Now for over ten years I have been getting her troubles by mail, and I try to send her a little encouraging and sympathetic word in reply. Recently I met her again and she said, “You must be getting awfully tired of my troubles.” If I had told the truth, I would have had to say, “Yes, I am;” but I said, “What is troubling you now?” “Oh,” she said, “it is not anything new, but it is such a comfort to find somebody who will listen to my trials and understand!” And she was so effusive in her gratitude I was ashamed that I had not entered into things more deeply.
We have a great High ftiest who never wearies of our trials. We weary of hearing of them sometimes because they stir our hearts and we would like to do that which we cannot do; but He has power to see us through. No trial, no distress, can quench His love. “Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). Somebody translated this verse this way, “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them all the way through.” Through what? Through everything. He even loved Peter through his denial, through his cursing and swearing, and loved him back into fellowship with Himself. His love is unfailing. Having taken us up in grace, He loves to the end.
Let us look now at the value of love. Can you purchase love? Can you pay for it? I was in a home at one time where a very rich man of seventy years of age, worth millions, had married a girl of eighteen. Her ambitious, worldly-minded mother had engineered the marriage. I could not help noticing that young wife off in a corner sobbing to herself and crying bitterly. I tried never to interfere, for I did not want her to tell me what was in her heart.
One day the husband said, “Do you notice how downhearted my wife is?” I said, “She must have had some great sorrow.” “I am her sorrow,” he said. “She was a poor girl, very beautiful and talented, and as you know I have been very successful. I just thought that I could give her every comfort and could surely make her love me. I know that we do not seem to be suited; she is so much younger than I. But she can have everything, all the beautiful clothes and jewels she wants; surely any girl ought to be happy in a home like this. But, you know, it is all in vain; I cannot seem to buy her love.”
Of course not. He ought to have known that he did not have in his heart that to which she could respond. They belonged to two different ages, as it were. “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.” You cannot buy love, but oh, His love to us creates love in us. It is not the wonderful things that He has done for us, it is not the fact that He has enriched us for eternity, but it is because of what He is. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
His is an unchanging love,
Higher than the heights above;
Deeper than the depths beneath,
Free and faithful, strong as death.
What a blessed thing to know Him and love Him and be loved by Him! Oh, to be kept from wounding such a Lover, from grieving His Holy Spirit! For we read, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).
After the bride in the Song of Solomon had been brought into the full enjoyment of the privileges that the bridegroom delighted to lavish on her, she remembered with concern her sister back home: “What shall we do for our sister?” (8:8) The bridegroom had first encountered his bride as a shepherdess there in the hill country. He loved her and won her heart in those trying days when she felt herself so despised and neglected. She was brought to the palace and united in marriage to the king. Enjoying to the full his tender consideration and surrounded by the evidences of his affection, she could not keep from thinking of the little mountain home from which she had come.
She thought of the dear old mother who had raised her and cared for her after the father’s death, for it is evident that the mother was a widow. The family earned a precarious living by overseeing the king’s vineyard. Then she thought of the little sister, much younger than she, who had none of the privileges that she was enjoying. And as she thought of her, she seemed to say, “This bridegroom of mine, my king, the one who has loved me and brought me into these privileges, cannot but take an interest in my family, in my household, and I am going to speak to him about that sister of mine.” And so she turned to him in the most tender and confiding way, and said, “I have a little sister, a little undeveloped sister, up there in the vineyard. I am concerned about her. Is there not something we could do for her? What shall we do for our sister?”
He responded at once, “If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar” (9). You see, this is just the oriental way of saying, “I am so glad you spoke to me about that little sister of yours; I am so glad that you have not forgotten her and her needs. It will be a real privilege for me to show my love for you by what I do for her.” And so he used the striking figures of the wall and the door as he asserted his willingness to help. It was as though he said, “Whatever her circumstances are, and whatever her needs are, I will be delighted to minister to them and I will make you my agent in doing it.”
It seems to me this expresses one of the very first evidences of union with Christ. We are no sooner saved ourselves, no sooner rejoicing in the knowledge of Christ as our Redeemer, as the Lover of our souls, as our heavenly Bridegroom, than we begin to think of others less privileged. Our hearts cry out with longing, “What about my little sister? What about my brother? What about those who are still in their sins and still in their deep, deep need, who do not know or understand Your incomprehensible love that means so much to me?*’ It is the Holy Spirit Himself who puts that yearning into our hearts that leads us to show an interest in the souls of others. In other words, every real Christian feels within him something that impels him to missionary service.
Are you saved? Then have you been to the Lord about that little sister, or about that neglected brother? Perhaps it is a little sister or a brother you have never seen, and maybe from an altogether different nation. Perhaps that little sister of yours is far away—a child-widow in India, a down-trodden native woman in central Africa, or a degraded Indian in the wilds of South America—yet they are your sisters, for we read, God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). You may say, “But she is so sinful, so undeserving.” Have you forgotten that you too were sinful and undeserving and the grace that is lavished on you came from His heart of love? He delights to give to the undeserving. The very need of that little sister of yours is the reason why you should be going to the Lord about her.
The bride here is really praying for her sister. Do you often go to the blessed Lord in prayer for that sister of yours? Perhaps it is a brother. You who rejoice in Christ Jesus, do you think very often of that poor, ignorant, under-privileged, degraded, sinful brother of yours? Perhaps he is living in pagan darkness today, or dwelling in the slums of one of our great cities, or he may be enjoying all that this life has to offer and yet not knowing Christ? Have you spoken to God in behalf of that degraded one? Somebody has said, “A selfish Christian is a contradiction in terms;” yet we do hear people talking about selfish Christians. Christianity is the demonstration of the love of Christ in one’s life. The same love that was lavished on you He would now have you lavish on others in their need. We are given wonderful illustrations of this principle throughout Scripture.
In John 1 we read how the Lord revealed Himself to one and another, and every one who got that divine revelation went after someone else. Each said in effect, “I have a brother, a friend, a dear one in need, and I must go to that one and tell the story of Jesus; tell him that we have found Him.” The privileges and blessings that God has given to us in Christ are not given to us for ourselves alone. We may say in connection with them all: You must either use them or lose them. “What,” you say, “are you telling us that we may lose our souls after having been truly converted?” Your soul is not a blessing; it is you. Of course you cannot lose that if it is saved. I recognize the fact that having life eternal, you will never perish, but I am talking about the blessings that the Lord lavishes on you from day to day. They are given in order that you may share them with others. To what extent do you share your blessings?
I would have you think of three things. First, to what extent do you use your time for the blessing of other people? When I find Christians who need so much physical recreation and have so little time to seek to win souls, I do not quite understand it. I was speaking with a young man some months ago, and I said, “Do you do anything to win others for Christ?” He said, “I would like to, but it doesn’t seem to be my gift. I work hard all day, and when Saturday comes I have to go off and get some physical exercise.” I think his great invigorating exercise was throwing horseshoes at a little stick. I said, “Did it ever strike you that you could get wonderful exercise by taking a bundle of tracts and going out on a country road and visiting the homes along the way, telling people about their souls? Walking is wonderful exercise.” “But,” he said, “I am thinking of serious things all week, and I cannot be serious on Saturday afternoon.”
Time is given us to use in view of eternity. I quite recognize that we need a certain amount of physical exercise or we would go to pieces, but you will find you can get on beautifully if you give more of your time to God. I was saved forty-one years ago, and I can honestly say that since that time my best days have been those in which I have spent my time trying to help other people gain a knowledge of Christ; it is the greatest exercise in the world.
I was visiting a preacher some time ago, and he asked, “What do you do for physical exercise?” I replied, “I preach.” “But I mean when you want to get a rest,” he said. “I preach some more and that rests me,” I answered; “the more I do in the work of the Lord, the better I feel.” “Brother,” he said, “you will have a nervous breakdown if you are not careful.” “But I am trying to be careful,” I said. It isn’t the Lord’s work that gives people nervous breakdowns; it is getting into debt, getting mixed up in questionable things, and then getting worried and upset. Just keep at solid service for the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will not have a nervous breakdown.
Paul was in the Lord’s service for thirty years. His enemies tried to kill him again and again; he was half-drowned several times, and was thrown to wild beasts. But the old man, when about seventy years of age, had much more vigor than a lot of worldly preachers that I meet who have to go on a prolonged vacation every once in a while. Your time belongs to the Lord Jesus, and He gives it to you in order that you may use it to bless and help others. “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4).
Some time ago, I knew a dear man, one of the greatest men for physical exercise I ever saw. He worked hard on the street railroad. I would see him down on his knees, a great big covering over his eyes to shield them from the brilliant light, as he welded the steel rails. By Saturday noon, he was just worn out. He would get a bundle of books and off he would go for exercise, over the hills and far away, hunting up poor needy souls, maybe in the county hospital, possibly in the jails, and to poor families. Sometimes he would hear of somebody lying sick and poor and miserable, and he would go to see that one. He had a remarkable way of preaching the gospel. He would often lay down a five-dollar bill at the side of a sick person’s bed, if he found out that the family had no money to pay the bills. On Sunday he would say, “My! I was worn out yesterday, but I had a wonderful time Saturday afternoon, and I am all rested up.” He found his rest in living for others.
Live for others while on earth you live,
Give to others what you have to give.
Then you will find the secret of a really happy Christian life. Your time is to be spent in the service of Christ for the blessing of others, for the blessing of the “little sister,” or that poor brother.
God has not only given you the blessing of time, He has entrusted you with your talents. “Oh, but,” you say, “I haven’t any.” Oh yes, you have. You would not like it if others said you had no talents. But who are you using them for? For Christ, for the blessing of that brother, of that sister in need? It is the investment that you make of your talents here for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ that is going to bring you a reward at His judgment seat. You remember that He said, “Unto every one that hath shall be given…but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath” (Matthew 25:29). You are to use the talents God has given you for Jesus’ sake. Is it the ability to speak? Use it for winning souls to Christ. Is it that you know how to be a kindly sympathetic friend? Then surely you have a wonderful sphere for service. Is it looking up the shut-ins, the sick and needy, and giving them a tender loving word? You would bless and help so many you never think of now, if you would only begin to use those talents for Him. Christian service is not just the work of the man on the platform. Whenever I see souls coming to Christ in a meeting, I wonder what started them.
Years ago, when I was young and ignorant, I would go home to my wife and say, “I won six souls tonight.” She would look at me and say, “Are you sure you did it?” I would say, “No,” of course, “but the Lord used me.” But you know it really began long before that. Perhaps it was a dear Sunday school teacher who had been sowing the seed in the heart of that young man or woman. It was lying there dormant for days, months, or years; as the Word of God came anew, something was said that just caused it to fructify and burst into life, and that boy or girl came to Jesus. Perhaps it was the lesson the mother taught as the child sat on her lap long ago. Perhaps it was the father’s word dropped into the heart. There is seldom a soul who comes to Christ without many people having a part in it. It is not just the preacher and the preached message. God gives us our talents to be used for Christ. Paul planted, Apollos watered, “but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Then there is my privilege not only to use my time and my talents but my money to help and bless that little sister, that neglected brother. What a wonderful thing consecrated money is! There never would have been a dollar bill, a piece of silver money, a gold, copper, or nickel coin in the world, if it had not been for sin. That is why Jesus called it the mammon of unrighteousness. Every coin in your pocket is a witness that sin has come into the world. If men and women had remained as they were when God created them, there would have been no money. People would not have sought to build up fortunes and buy and sell things. We would still be living in a glorious state on this earth, and we would not have had to go out and earn our bread by the sweat of our brow.
However, Jesus said, “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations” (Luke 16:9). Since money is here, and we cannot get along without it, do not live for it; do not let it get a hold on you—“The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Use it now with an eye on your everlasting home. Use it to meet, of course, your own needs and those of your family; but then use it as God enables you, to bless and help others in their deep spiritual need and in their temporal need too. Then, when at last you reach the glorious habitation, you will see a throng running down the golden street to meet you. They will say, “Welcome,” and you will ask in amazement, “Who can these be?” And one will answer, “We are so glad to welcome you here, for it was your dollar that paid for that Testament that brought me the message of Christ.” Another, “You met my need when in such distress I thought nobody cared for me. You gave me the money for a good dinner, and I could not help but think of the God of all grace who had put it in your heart to do that for me.” And another may say, “I came to Jesus because of the kind deed you did for me.” Then we will feel it was worthwhile that we spent and were spent for others. “What shall be done for our little sister?” Let us share with her the good things we have.
The king in Song of Solomon said, “If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver” (9). A wall speaks of security. If she has already entered into the blessings and security of Christ, we will help her and build her up in the things of Christ. We will add to that which is already hers. “If she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar” (9). A door speaks of responsibility, or opportunity for service. “A great door,” said the apostle, “and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9). “Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8). But what use is a door if it has no side-posts to swing from? “If she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.” If she wants an opportunity for service, we will help to make it possible. We will assist her in whatever is required, that she may work the better for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then as the chapter and the little book close, the bride, her heart content to think she and her little sister too have come into blessing, goes over the past. She talks about the vineyard days, the love that has been shown and the bliss now hers. Then she turns to her beloved one and says, “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices” (14). “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away” (2:17). The consummation of all bliss will be when we are at home forever with Him. Until then, let us seek to spend and be spent for His glory.
Once a missionary offering was being taken and as the box was handed to a very wealthy man, he brushed it to one side and said, “I do not believe in missions.” “Then,” said the usher, “take something out; this is for the heathen.” How can you be a real Christian and not be concerned about those who are less privileged than you are? May God stir our hearts to think of the millions that are still in great, great need. If we can do nothing else for them, we can bring their case to Him; we can be prayer-helpers; we can intercede on their behalf. The wonderful thing is that when you begin to pray, the rest follows. People who pray devise ways and means for giving.
A lady said to me one time, “You know my husband is unsaved, and he never lets me have any money. He says he wouldn’t for the world give me a dime to put in the missionary offering. But I started praying about missions, and as I prayed, there came such a burden on my heart to do something. I had two or three chickens that I had bought with a little money I received from doing some sewing for a neighbor. The money from the chickens was all mine, and I said, ‘I am going to devote one chicken to the Lord, and every egg that this chicken lays will belong to Him.’ It has been wonderful to me to see that the other chickens lay every once in a while, but my husband growls and says, ‘That missionary chicken of yours lays nearly two eggs a day.’ Of course that is an exaggeration, but every little while I have another dozen eggs, and I take them to the corner store and get my money, and that goes for missions.”
I believe that the Lord will take that money and do with it what He did with the five loaves and two fishes: multiply, and multiply, and multiply it. Maybe one way in which He will multiply this lady’s gift will be to start some of you giving. Then the Lord will turn to this lady and say, “You are the woman that had that chicken the preacher told about. I am going to give you a part of the reward, for these folk just followed your example!”
Let us seek by grace to make every day count for the blessing of others. If we truly love Him we cannot be selfish or indifferent to the needs of those for whom He died, “until the day break, and the shadows flee away.”